Vignettes of a blizzard

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blizzard snow
T-48 hours

“Look, Mommy! It no-ing!”

I smile the smile of a mother who believes she knows better. It can’t actually be snowing. We’ve still got almost 48 hours before the big storm moves into the close up view on the radar.

“Snowing? You sure, bud?” I make my way to him, picking up a matchbox car on the way.

“Yeah! Look!” a dimpled hand with chubby little fingers directs me to the window.

I look outside, half expecting to see a leaf floating gracefully to the ground or a bit of wind dancing in the trees. But he’s right. It is, in fact, no-ing. And sticking. And accumulating. And fast.

Bedtime is a blur. Shuffling kids from room to room, anxiously checking my phone in between pouring the soap and towel-drying little heads. Traffic is snarled. Roads are slick. Plane has landed. Husband is stuck in a cab miles from home. Cars slide down our street, narrowly missing ours parked on the hill, as I watch out the window, waiting for him to arrive. I track his movement (yes, I have GPS tracking on him) and when I see he is on our street, I open the door and stand there in my sweatshirt and pajama pants, shivering until he walks into view.


T-3 hours

“Ayers” I text to him. And then I shove little arms through coat sleeves and feet into shoes as we dash out the door. The hardware store down the road has just gotten a shipment of rock salt and shovels and we need both. By the time we arrive, the line winds through aisle after aisle before stretching out the back door. Silly people who dropped in for an extra puzzle to pass the time abandon purchases on their way out while the rest of us, woefully unprepared, shake our heads at our own silliness. I have  40 minutes until my next conference call starts and I’m worried that I won’t make it. Sister carries the shovel as I balance two containers of salt and shuffle the toddler through the store. The woman in front of us scratches six sleds across the tile.

“Hi.” she smiles to us.

“Hi.” I smile back. She’s already hit up the man in front of her and I know what’s coming. She knows I know.

“I hate to do this to a woman with two kids but will you buy two of these for me? I’ll give you the money for them. They will only let me buy two.”

“No problem.” I keep smiling. Because this is it, right? In a state of emergency you help your fellow mama, even with the non-essentials.

She thanks me profusely and somehow I get two sleds, two kids, two containers of rock salt and a shovel to the cashier. Then I turn over the sleds and wish her luck. If she truly needs six sleds, she’s going to need it.


T+ 18 hours

playing in the blizzard

I’m determined to bake every cookie and make every dessert before we loose power, which I’m fairly convinced that we will. So I’m toasting coconut and melting chocolate and chilling toffee. One neighbor is hosting dinner tonight in the midst of this blizzard and the other is cooking it and I want to bring the sweets. So between excursions to the mountain of snow at the foot of our driveway, I arrange flour and sugar on our counter tops. While the coconut cools, I check on the chocolate that I’m foolishly melting in a plastic bowl over a pot of boiling water.

“Help! I need help!” I shout.

M comes to my side and looks at my mess.

“You don’t need help.” he says, “This is done.” he turns off the burner.

He rinses the lost cause of chocolate down the drain and carries the pot, with the bowl I have melded on top, to the trashcan that he has just dug out.

The snow is still coming down and each inch on the ground makes me giddy. It’s a feeling I’m not entirely used to. This winter scene usually turns me into a sloth, looking for a way to sleep my way until spring. But today I want to bake and make. I want to shovel and catch flakes on my tongue. This is an event.


T+ 26 hours

The result of three families stocking up is spread across the counter, raising steam over the oven, or waiting on plates until it’s time for dessert. There’s guacamole and hummus and vegetables and a big hunk of cheese. There’s chili and chicken and risotto. There’s cookies and toffee. And, of course, wine. The flavors and combinations would probably never meet up on a properly planned dinner party menu but oh my goodness do they work so well somehow. It’s warm and cozy and the whole place glows, as it does when we gather there. And for three hours, we forget about how the storm is still not even close to over. We nurse our aching shoveling muscles and we talk about things other than the mess that nature creates outside. This is most definitely the best way to blizzard.


The morning after

blizzard out my front door

The sky is always brightest right after the storm. The snow glitters as if mother nature saw fit to display just how brilliant she is and what beauty she’s created. It’s cold but warming. In houses up and down our street, gloves and mittens and snow pants are pulled up over pajamas. Sleds are dragged out of basements or attics. The street becomes a sledding hill. Kids climb up enormous white craggy mountains and throw snow as adults dig out. A snow-fort pops up enough rooms for every kid on the street. The kids work hard at it while adults stand in the street and chat lightly about the experience. We didn’t loose power! We made it through just fine! The sun is shining and it is warm and we’re still in the blizzard bubble.


The week after

blizzard walk

Snow day 6. Then 7. Then 8. 9 becomes official as I stand outside her ballet class, waiting for the teacher to arrive. The eyes of my fellow mothers that were soft and glowy just days ago stare around wild and frantic. We talk in high pitches, voices dripping with exasperation. We love our children. We want to spend time with them. But nobody thrives with this kind of routine-less madness. Nobody thrives with this kind of forced, long-term togetherness. After more than a week, the snow has lost its sparkle and the crafts have all been used up and there is paint on the floor, we just know it, but we haven’t screwed up the courage to look.


The melting

We take bets on how long the snow will stick around. Some say March. I’m going with May. There is just so much. Mountains we built with our own two hands have been compacted by plows and frozen in place during the night. They have that look about them that says they’ll be sticking around. We walk to school, when it finally starts up again, in a circuitous route to avoid scaling frozen mountains on our way.

I get excited when I see grass. It sticks out wildly out at the edge of a yard or peeks up in the spots where the sun rests the most. I get so excited that the kids play along. “Mommy! Grass!” they squeal  whenever they spot so much as a blade and I squeal back.

And then the rain comes. It rains all through the day and over an entire night and when we wake up, I can see my backyard again. The grass, the plants, the branches of bushes that might just make it after all. The mountains still remain (and I still think they’ll stick around) but everywhere there is grass. And with that, I call it. The blizzard is over. For now.

snow free

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